Will a Gap in Medical Treatment Affect a Personal Injury Claim in Massachusetts?
Personal injury claims inherently involve bodily injuries. An important aspect of personal injury cases is medical treatment and records that establish the extent and severity of injuries.
A gap in medical treatment might have a negative impact on your case. At the very least, a gap in medical treatment might raise a red flag when jurors deliberate and decide damages awards. At worst, it might undermine the credibility of your claims and cost you the entire case. Even if you win your case, a gap in medical treatment might reduce the overall amount of your damages. If you pursue an insurance claim, you might be unable to receive insurance payments if you wait too long to be evaluated by a doctor. The best time to get medical treatment is immediately after an injury or accident. You should also be receiving regular medical attention until your case is complete.
If you were recently injured, you should seek medical treatment immediately if you have not already. Our Massachusetts personal injury lawyers can help you get medical treatment and prepare your case. For a free case review, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407.
How a Gap in Medical Treatment Affects Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits in Massachusetts
Damages in a personal injury claim represent the plaintiff’s losses, injuries, and expenses because of their injuries. Economic damages, often called “special damages” in Massachusetts, represent losses of actual money. Non-economic damages, or “general damages,” represent the plaintiff’s subjective experience and do not necessarily relate to a specific sum of money.
Your special damages can be determined by adding up your various financial expenses related to your injuries. A significant factor behind special damages is medical treatment. Medical treatment costs a lot of money, and a gap in medical treatment might make your total special damages go up or down.
If you have a long gap between doctor visits, you are probably spending much less money on medical treatment, and your special damages might decrease. Alternatively, a gap in medical treatment might mean you are not receiving the care you need, and you might incur greater medical bills later to make up for the treatment you missed.
It should also be noted that a gap in medical treatment might raise doubts among a jury in a trial. They might reason that you did not need medical treatment because your injuries are not serious, and your overall damages award or odds of winning your case decrease.
Your general damages, also called non-economic damages, reflect your subjective experiences and do not always have a price tag attached. Such damages must be evaluated and assessed to determine their worth. Essentially, the more painful your experiences, the greater your general damages may be. Our Boston personal injury lawyers can help you get medical treatment and hopefully maximize your compensation.
If you have a gap in medical treatment, you risk undermining your general damages. A gap in medical treatment might mislead a jury to think your injuries only needed minimal care, and your suffering must not have been that great. The defendant might point to your gap in medical treatment as proof that you did not suffer very much, and your general damages should be minimal.
How A Gap in Medical Treatment Affects an Insurance Claim in a Massachusetts Personal Injury Case
Many injured accident victims pursue insurance claims, especially in car accidents. An insurance company, like a jury, needs proof of the accident and your injuries before compensating you for your damages. If you have a gap in your medical records, an insurance company might be less willing to issue payments or even deny your claims. Our Cambridge personal injury attorneys can help you get the compensation you need while helping you find doctors to get treatment.
Under Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 90 § 34M, insurance claimants may be required to submit to examinations by physicians approved by the insurance company before the insurance company issues payment. The insurance company might deny your claims if you do not submit to medical evaluation. Also, your refusal to submit to medical examinations can be used as a defense by the insurance companies if you pursue a lawsuit after your claim is denied.
When is the Best Time to Get Medical Treatment for a Personal Injury Claim in Massachusetts?
The best time to get medical treatment after an accident or being injured is right away. Even if you get immediate medical care, it might not be enough. A doctor should also evaluate you regularly until your legal action, whether an insurance claim, lawsuit, or both, is completed.
According to Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 260 §2A, a plaintiff seeking a personal injury lawsuit has only 3 years from the date of their injuries to file their claims. This is a short amount of time in which to prepare a claim, and waiting to seek medical attention might be seen as a big red flag. It also provides a deadline on when you should receive medical care. Once the 3-year deadline is up, you can no longer file a lawsuit.
The more severe your injuries, the more often you should meet with a doctor to review your recovery plan and prognosis. Injuries can change over time, or patients sometimes do not respond to treatment as well as anticipated. Seeing a doctor regularly makes it more likely that all your injuries and health concerns are well documented.
Even if you wait to get medical treatment, our Wakefield personal injury lawyers can help you explain your decision in a way that does not harm your case. Perhaps you waited to get treatment because you did not have health insurance, or you live in a rural area with limited access to doctors.
Call Our Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorneys for a Free Case Evaluation
If you were injured, you should seek medical treatment as early as possible and continue receiving medical care regularly. Our Somerville personal injury lawyers can help you explain gaps in your treatment history. For a free case review, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407.